Guidelines for Panelists

This document provides a brief overview of the Virtual Review process for Panelists.



Panelists are assigned to topical panels. In addition, panelists advise the panel Chairs on a subset of the Large, Treasury and Legacy proposals assigned for review to the Executive Committee.

The Cycle 1 Peer Review comprises seven topical areas:

  • Solar System Astronomy,
  • Exoplanets and Exoplanet Formation,
  • Stellar Physics and Stellar Types,
  • Stellar Populations and the Interstellar Medium,
  • Galaxies and the Intergalactic Medium
  • Supermassive Black Holes and Active Galaxies,
  • and Large-Scale Structure of the Universe

Each panel except Solar System is managed by a Panel Chair. There is also an Executive Committee Chair who oversees the review process. Each panel is also assigned a Panel Support Scientist (PSS) and a Leveler; the role of the PSS is to ensure the process runs smoothly and act as liason between the panel and the institute; the Leveler ensures the discussion remains focused on the scientific merits of the proposals. More information about the panel review process is given in the section on Galactic/Extragalactic Panel Meetings.

General Responsibilities

Panelists access the proposals assigned to their panel using the SPIRIT webtool following the Selection Criteria and Scoring System. Panelists do not have access to proposals where a conflict has been identified; panelists should identify any additional proposals where they feel that they have a conflict. Each panelist is assigned to grade a subset of the proposals assigned to the panels. They review those proposals and submit preliminary grades prior to the virtual panel discussion. We encourage panelists to enter comments in SPIRIT as they conduct the preliminary reviews. The preliminary grades from panelists are combined to determine the initial ranked list. The lowest-ranked 40% of proposals are marked for triage.

The top 60% of proposals are discussed at the virtual panel meeting. Each panelist has the option of raising one proposal from triage for discussion. The Panel Chair and Vice Chair will organize the discussion. Each proposal has a panelist assigned as a Primary Reviewer and a panelist as the Secondary Reviewer; those panelists lead the discussion of each proposal; at the conclusion of the discussion, all unconflicted panelists grade the proposal. Once all proposals are graded, the panel inspects the ranked list as has an opportunity to re-rank proposals. The re-ranking process is described in detail in the section on Selection Criteria and Scoring System.

Once the ranking is complete, the panelists can review the team expertise to determine whether the composition of any team raises significant concerns.

Each panel is also allocated a number of proposals that will be graded by the Executive Committee. Those proposals are included as a downloadable package in SPIRIT. Panelists do not grade the Executive Committee proposals. However, they are asked to review the proposals and provide comments to the Panel Chair and the Vice-Chair to assist their discussion at the Executive Committee.

Cycle 1 Panelist Schedule

DateMilestone
November 24, 2020Cycle 1 Proposal Deadline
December 18, 2020STScI releases proposals to panelists for review and preliminary grading
January 8, 2021Deadline for panelists to identify conflicts of interest and to recommend proposals that should be moved to another Science Category
January 28, 2021Orientation meeting for Panel Chairs
February 3, 2021Deadline for Galactic panelists to submit preliminary grades for proposals that they are assigned
February 4, 2021Orientation meeting for Galactic Panelists
February 6, 2021STScI sends each Galactic panel the list of proposals to be discussed by that panel; panelists should review all those proposals in preparation for the panel meeting. Panelists should also consider whether they wish to raise a triaged proposal for discussion.
February 10, 2021Deadline for Extragalactic panelists to submit preliminary grades for proposals that they are assigned
February 11, 2021Orientation meeting for Extragalactic Panelists
February 12, 2021Deadline for Executive Committee to submit preliminary grades for Large and Treasury proposals that they are assigned
February 13, 2021STScI sends each Extragalactic panel the list of proposals to be discussed by that panel; panelists should review all those proposals in preparation for the panel meeting. Panelists should also consider whether they wish to raise a triaged proposal for discussion.
February 15, 2021STScI releases the list of proposals that will be discussed in the Executive Committee meeting; Committee members should review all those proposals in preparation for the panel meeting.
February 16 - 19, 2021Galactic panels meet
February 22 - 25, 2021Extragalactic panels meet
March 1 - 4, 2021Executive Committee meets
March 11, 2021Deadline for Panel Chairs to submit final consensus reports
April 7, 2021STScI releases Cycle 1 GO Science Program

Proposal Comments

Panel members are required to provide Proposal Feedback Comments for all proposals for which they are the Primary reviewer, in consultation with the Secondary reviewer – incorporating comments from other panelists and from the discussions.

We encourage the use of Slack to message the whole panel or individual panelists to assist in the writing of reviews.

Software and Hardware

The meetings will be run using BlueJeans. We encourage all panelists to show their videos to allow for face-to-face communication, but recognize this may not be possible in cases where panelists have limited bandwidth. To that end, we encourage panelists to use a wired or stable wireless internet connection, but again recognize that may not be possible in all cases.

Conflicts of Interest

Any panelist who is conflicted on a proposal for any reason must leave the virtual meeting for the duration of the discussion of that proposal (both in the individual proposal discussion phase and the ranking phase if the conflicted proposal is being compared to another). The preferred solution is to add any conflicted panelists to a breakout room in BlueJeans and then recall them to the main meeting once the discussion is over. An alternative solution is for any conflicted panelists to disconnect from the meeting entirely and rejoin once the discussion is over. It is not allowed to turn off audio and video but remain connected to the main meeting.

Ahead of the meeting, panelists should identify the best way to contact them to tell them that the discussion has ended and they can rejoin the meeting. Panelists should also be vigilant during that time and aware that they could be called back at any time. We have set up a Slack channel for each panel and strongly recommend using this, but other methods (email, text, WhatsApp) could be used instead if Slack does not prove to work well. Panelists should make sure that notifications are turned on and/or alert sounds are turned on, as appropriate, for the method they choose.

Proposal Comments

Panel members are required to provide Proposal Feedback Comments for all proposals for which they are the Primary reviewer, in consultation with the Secondary reviewer – incorporating comments from other panelists and from the discussions.

We encourage the use of Slack to message the whole panel or individual panelists to assist in the writing of reviews.

Next: Guidelines for Panel Advisors and Observers




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